It looks like Starbucks
Procter & Gamble
Dunkin' Donuts certainly seems like a formidable rival. Even my Foolish colleague Nathan Parmelee, a fellow Starbucks shareholder, has admitted that he's often lured by Dunkin's brew instead. Now he'll be able to find it on supermarket shelves, too.
Procter & Gamble will distribute the coffee through retailers such as Wal-Mart
The move makes sense for both companies. Procter & Gamble gets to distribute a well-branded coffee, and although terms weren't disclosed, Dunkin' Donuts will most likely get royalty payments, along with the opportunity to expose more consumers to its coffee. (Dunkin' Donuts outlets are mostly concentrated in the Northeast U.S.)
The implications for Starbucks may be even more interesting. The java giant faces a variety of rivals on all sides, and now fiercer competition in the grocery aisles. Dunkin' Donuts' encroachment seems fairly noteworthy, since reaching consumers in grocery aisles is one way to help entice them into stores. Last I heard, Starbucks had a mere 7% of the market of coffee consumption here in the U.S. Obviously, it hopes to move that needle upward -- and the more rivals it has in areas where it might win over customers, the more difficult that growth could theoretically become.
I'm still a long-term bull on Starbucks; it's got a great brand and a history of doing things right, and I don't think investors should panic about its short-term troubles. However, as I said in response to Starbucks' latest earnings, Fools shouldn't forget that it's abundantly challenged these days, particularly by aggressive competition.